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Get It Loud In Libraries @ Liverpool Central Library 16/9/15

Libraries aren’t normally associated with music, which is the point of Get It Loud In Libraries: a project born 10 years ago, designed to repurpose the humble library into something much more; to bring noise and energy to normally quiet and reflective spaces.

Liverpool Central Library is a clean, modern space with shiny counters and desks with computers dotted around, all flat screens and spinning screensavers. Walking through a Crime Fiction section past a sign proclaiming ‘Discover’, it all feels very apt. This is a gig like no other, an altogether different atmosphere to the traditional gig venues to which you’re likely to rock up. There is an air of cultural sensitivity. The books, shelves and bench seating give the space a lecture theatre-feel. The crowd is quiet, muted, sitting quietly sipping coffees or bottles of water, awaiting the evening’s entertainment.

Support comes from local ambient techno soundscapers DROHNE, who set the scene and ambience with their blend of dub-laden basslines and swirling synths. These guys have an understated air about them, bending and warping sounds, heads bowed, slowly nodding to the deep metronomic beats. It’s a short set but long enough to fully appreciate their dense layers of electronica and deft arrangements.

It’s about 20 minutes before LONELADY takes the stage and the audience cheers and applauds warmly. Opening track Into The Cave is a dark and funky number, pushing a large number of people from their seats around the room to the front where they stay, entranced, for the entire gig swaying, dancing and clapping.

Julie Campbell (aka LoneLady) has rooted her music in the dark leaden skies of the industrial landscape of her native Manchester. The mist and vapour of belching chimneys over ruinous, skeletal structures is reflected in the back projections of Victorian gasometers and iron storage containers bordered with barbed wire. Even the library interior reflects this, with wrought-iron girders supporting the oval ceiling.

Campbell’s voice is sparse and vulnerable yet she dominates the stage with an aura of confidence and authority. She stands amidst her backing band, who provide the layers for her to drive the performance; songs from albums Nerve Up and Hinterland filter Wire, Joy Division and A Certain Ratio to create a funk-fused new wave that, as the projection behind the band proclaims, ‘grooves’.

Stand out tracks are Bunkerpop, Groove It Out and set closer Hinterland; songs of urban decay, alienation and dystopia. These are concrete-jacketed Ballardian visions. Groove It Out is a funk-driven, post-punk song delivered as if channelled through Stevie Wonder and Prince. It grooves, as do the audience, moving in time to the beat. These are icily-cool melodies warmed up and dressed with funk bass, analogue synths and jagged, strumming guitar.

The combination of venue and stunning performance creates an experience like no other. This is no ordinary gig. It’s an installation, an intimate performance, a perfect fusion of music, art and history.

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